GIBRALTAR, THE GATEWAY TO THE ATLANTIC By Victoria Giraud

It’s been over 50 years, but I saved the mimeographed Rose Report from the USNS Rose, now very tattered and the type blurred from age. The Master’s Morning Report was featured every day and the one I kept related we’d traveled 167 miles from Naples to Leghorn at a speed of 12.9 knots and a time of 12 hours. It didn’t mention if the storm had slowed us down. I wonder how much faster modern ships sail–but I’m too lazy to check. After our visit in Livorno (Leghorn in English), we were headed for Gibraltar on July 29. Curious, but as fate would have it, I am posting this blog on the current July 29!  Our last port was 713 miles away, which would keep the ship at sea for two days.

The Report was very informative, giving us tidbits about the geography and the history of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding countries. There were also a few articles about military personnel and their dependents, like the story about a baby born on a military plane at 7,000 feet on its way to Hawaii. My souvenir Report informed us the movie being presented that day for adults was “Wild is the Wind,” starring Anthony Quinn, Tony Franciosa and Anna Magnani, who I remembered as the tempestuous Italian actress who wasn’t a beauty like Gina Lollobrigida.

Gibraltar was our last stop before crossing the Atlantic, which would take a week. When we docked in Gibraltar port, we were all instructed that photos of the dock were not allowed. Those were the days of the Cold War and the British Forces stationed there were security conscious. Several of us wondered about the name of a British ship docked near us: the Eddy Beach. I imagine its name had some historical significance but a brief Internet search didn’t reveal the origin.

Since there was no tour offered of the renowned “Rock” or views of the famous monkeys (called apes) that lived there, a bunch of us meandered the nearby streets in downtown Gibraltar. I noted a few of the very British street names: John Macintosh Place, Cumberland Road and Spud Hill. I complained about the French fries in a tea shop—“swimming in grease and salt and not very done.” I also wrote that I bought a Crunchy bar, two caramels, and some Treets (chocolate-covered almonds)—all for watching movies on the Atlantic voyage. I saved a scrap of paper from a bag from Perez & Navarro, a fruit and chocolate store established in 1894 on Main Street!

When we got back from our very long walk, Diana and I took turns looking through my binoculars at some British fellows training in the harbor for boat racing. Teenage girls were always interested in males!

At 6 p.m. that evening the Rose departed Gibraltar and began the journey to New York harbor and the good old USA, just seven days away.

The Rock in the 1950s

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Thanks, David, for the extra info. Ships are fascinating–my novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade is about 16th century ships, especially the one sailed by Sir Francis Drake. I wonder how many knots it was capable of when depending solely on the wind…

  2. David Hambling says:

    Interesting stuff.

    Detail of of Eddy Beach here – http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?182781

    There’s no particular significance in the name – all ships of her class were Eddy something – Eddy Reef, Eddy Cove, Eddystone etc.

    The Gibraltar apes are very much not monkeys! Apes are a lot closer to humans than monkeys; the easy way to tell is that they have no tail.

    Modern scruise liners travel at 20-25 knots, about twice as fast as the Geberal Rose

  3. Victoria says:

    I wish I remember even more! I know my mom had fun since Dad took my brother to FLA while we took the cruise. She loved to dance and was good at it. The Chaplain danced with her a lot and even asked me for a polka, which I danced barefoot!

  4. Ruthann says:

    I am so glad you write these stories. I remember them as though it happened yesterday. I have taken many cruises since. However, none compare to the Rose. I so enjoyed the time we spent on her. I don’t remember ever being bored. There was a lot of good food and entertainment available.

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